While everyone panics about climate change and warming conditions on the planet, indicating all sorts of insignificant activities as the culprit, dairy could be one of the worst ones, but, unfortunately, it isn’t mentioned much by the media.
Greenhouse gases are generated in the production of milk, the main ingredient needed to make butter, and almost 40 percent come from ‘enteric emissions,’ triggered by cattle burping and breaking wind.
Researchers analyzed 212 plant-based spreads and margarines and compared the greenhouse emissions in the making to 21 dairy butters. The results show that the average carbon dioxide corresponding to plant-based spreads was 3.3 kilograms (7.27 pounds) for each kg produced, in comparison to 12.1 kilograms (26.6 pounds) of CO2 for dairy products.
The damage is triggered by methane, which is about 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at catching heat and is the culprit behind about 25 percent of global warming. Cow burps, winds, and farms’ manure handling participated significantly to climate change, having a more massive effect than most other factors, the study said.
Dairy-Based Products Affect the Planet
The life cycle research, which is the largest of its kind so far, determined that plant-based spreads have a much lower effect than butter when it comes to climate, water, and land. The study analyzed the full life cycle of the products, such as production levels like crop cultivation, through to refrigeration at retail places.
For the dairy butter-based spreads, it included feed production, dairy farming, processing raw milk into butter and cream, packaging, allocation, and storage at people’s homes.
Sally Smith, head of sustainability at Upfield, said: “In order to achieve emissions targets designed to limit global warming, there needs to be a fundamental transformation of our food system. In Western countries, especially, we currently rely too heavily on meat and dairy.”
“It is our responsibility as a forward-thinking company to understand and act to address the impact of our plant-based products on the environment. A shift to regenerative agricultural practices will be key for dairy farmers,” she added.
The research was published in The International Journal Of Life Cycle Assessment and was based on products made by Upfield.